Kick off: True Underground Project!
TRUE UNDERGROUND PROJECT
In True Underground we (filmmakers Ram and Kencho) travel from city to city in Europe, to give bands a music video. Bunny manages the website and social network communication with the bands and viewers from home base Amsterdam. What we ask in return is a place to stay, and a ticket to the next city. We started off with the band Punky Donch in Amsterdam. Next up is the band Iratxo, in Madrid, Spain.
This is one of the film-projects I’m working on at this moment. The project started as a creative way of traveling in Europe without money, and evolved into what it is now. We don’t just make the music video, but we make it into a short reality show, with three elements. Me, traveling from city to city, a minidocu about the band, and a ‘making off’ the music video. We made social network accounts on the most popular services, tweet about the progress, and hope to have the project running completely in the summer of 2010. At this moment the website is very simple, as we are waiting to decide where to take it depending on the reactions and visits. As I keep meeting new musicians and artists (online) to work with I want to improve the project, and if possible, turn free traveling for film-art into a way to make money for the participants.
From a new media perspective there are several topics interesting for research that I see back in this project. One is making money with film in the open (piratable) internet environment as opposed to the old school television broadcasting or cinema way. Another is looking at the social mechanisms around this project. How do artists (musicians, filmmakers, and other) work together? How do they differ? How do bands use the possibility to promote themselves with online film and internet?
New Media graduate Chris Castiglione, recently spoke at eCommEurope2009 about his analysis of distribution of digital products within the framework of the Internet. In his thesis ‘Copy what can’t be sold (and sell what can’t easily be copied)‘ he elaborates on what musicians have learned from bloggers. In a recent blogpost on Masters of Media he mentioned that the defining characteristics of the 21st century musician reflect those found in the definition for a blogger. The recurring factor for bloggers, musicians, and makers of online film or other content for that matter is internet, in its current state.
In True Underground there will be some constant factors and some variable ones. First, the relatively constant ones. With the so-called economic crisis, especially artists, including musicians are effected in their revenues. Most musicians don’t make a lot of money to begin with, and as Chris Castiglione also mentioned at eComm, it seems now there are more middle class musicians, making less money, as oposed to a couple of decades ago, a few bands making a lot of money. Another solid factor is the general presence of internet, blogging, youtube, myspace, etc. in Europe, and the use of it by musicians and their fans.
In the project we are also thinking about trying to stick to capitals of the countries (for now Amsterdam, Madrid, and London). This provides for the possibilities to compare the point of view of the musicians, in different capitals, during this project, on the one hand through my own eyes, and on the other the experience through the eyes of the bands we visit. And off course this can also be a topic of discussion or research when we visit the bands, or after.
When looking at selling content online, a lot of what is true for musicians, also applies to filmmakers. There is a much larger group of people that can call themselves filmmakers nowadays, then just ten years ago. Like with music, there also seems to be a trend towards a bigger number of middle class filmmakers, as oposed to a smaller group of film-elites making all the money.
In the presentation Chris gave a very funny example of how musicians distinguish themselves by adding value to their album. Musician Josh Freese sells higher priced exclusive album packages, not only with the album, but depending on the extra service the buyer might want, additions ranging from a personal thank you phonecall, to footmassages, to a 5 day tour with the band! (more great examples of extra’s)
Another eCommEurope2009 speaker I hope to blog about soon is Gerd Leonhard, a self-proclaimed media futurist who talked about previewing the evolution of a new ecosystem of content owners and media companies, telecoms, etc. Some quotes: ‘Data is the new oil’, and on Piracy: ‘Friction is fiction’ as ‘content will flow like water’.
Because the project is still very young, it can turn in many different directions. Will our approach as filmmakers be different as opposed to more commercial or established filmmakers? How important is it to focus on general criteria for the project? Right now, we prefer to speak English, we want to make music video’s about non-commercial songs (not love, pop, etc.), and we are looking for talented muscians without a record deal, or big break.
Below you can see the mindocu and ‘making off’ the first band in Amsterdam.
PUNKY DONCH: TU Kick off in Amsterdam!
Video: ‘The World is in Trouble’: Online, 7 November 2009!
NEXT BAND: Iratxo, Madrid, online soon!
This is a picture from the trip